Wars and rumours of wars … Iran and Israel?
Just when the situation in Syria seemed it could get no worse, it did! In addition to the terrible destruction, the casualties and misery, the refugees forced to flee (and many now dispossessed by an unjust land registration law), the confusion of so many foreign powers being involved …. in addition to all that we see the enmity between Iran and Israel spilling into air strikes.
All-out war seems closer. And in the confusion of so many other countries being involved in Syria it is not clear how many nations and major powers would be fighting … and exactly which enemies they would fight! Could a war become nuclear?
The news that President Trump has pulled the USA out of the nuclear deal with Iran has many implications. It could damage many businesses in the UK and Europe as well as in the Middle East. But one key result is to encourage Israel to take pre-emptive military action against Iranian forces based in Syria.
So how do we respond as Christians? What can we do?
First of all, God has not changed and He is still on the throne, even if much of the Earth is in rebellion against His rule at present. Psalm 46 is an encouragement not to fear “though the earth gives way” or “the nations rage” because the time is coming when “He makes wars to cease.” In Psalm 58 He addresses the rulers and the demonic forces acting behind/through earthly rulers: He warns of judgment. Many times in scripture we are reminded He is the judge who will put things right.
Some Christians cause confusion when they make connections between Old Testament peoples and modern nations that have similar names, even though there is no real connection other than the fact that modern rulers like to appeal to history to add legitimacy.
Some Christians identify the modern state of Israel with the Jewish people even though it is a secular state. There is a very extreme view that everything Israel does must be right because it has the name Israel and must be the people of God. But most Jews live outside Israel and the New Testament is very clear that since the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 the people of God is defined by faith in Jesus and the presence of the Spirit, not by ethnic identities.
Some Christians see “wars and rumours of wars” as a sign that the end of the world is near even though Jesus specifically taught (see Matt 24 especially v6) that these events are normal throughout this present evil age and “the end is not yet.”
Some Christians are so critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its aggressive military strategies that they are blind to the unrighteous and inhumane actions of other nations.
But as for us - what should we think and do? We may not understand the complex political and military mess, but we can pray and we can speak out against inhumanity on all sides.
Our priority? To pray to the Father who wants all peoples to be reconciled to Him and to one another, through Jesus the Prince of Peace, in the power of the Spirit who makes peace.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-5 Paul urges us to pray for Kings (Presidents and Prime Ministers, etc) and others in high positions, so that there is peace to live godly lives and to proclaim the gospel. He makes clear in v4 God’s priority is that all might be saved - saved from violence and war, of course, but more importantly and more generally saved from sin and its consequences.